Devils In The Detail

You’ve got your instrument setup and are ready to practice – you start to play a piece but very quickly you get lose your way and so go and do something else. Is this you? If so then this practice method is for you.

In order to ensure that you do not get distracted during practice you need to plan your sessions in more detail. By spending a little bit of time planning you are never left wondering what to do next or what you are practising for.

Immediately following your lesson spend 10 minutes writing your plan of practice for the week. In this plan you need to write when you will practice (day and time), where you will practise, how long you will practice and what you need to get done.

Now, onto the practice session. Before you even go to your instrument you need to spend the first 5 minutes making a list of what you will do during that session. This list should have the following information: practice item (this could be a piece, study, scale, technique or anything else your teacher has set), how long you will spend on this item and why you are practicing this item. An example list might look like this:

Item Time Why
Bb, E and A major Scales 10mins For grade exam
Finger technique 10mins Need to strengthen them
Mozart Piece 10mins To play it much better at next lesson

Once you have written this list you can begin your practice. The list will be your guide as to exactly what to practice that session – the more detail you can include in your list the more effective your practice will be. Once you have completed all the items on your list your practice is finished for that session.

At the next practice session (from your weekly list, remember?) you need to repeat this process – listing everything you need to do for that session before you begin.

By being very precise about what you are going to play in each and every practice session you will find that you don’t play aimlessly through you pieces and don’t get bored – there is a good reason (which you have written down) for practicing everything on your list.

You should bear in mind that you do need to make a new list for each practice session – the list will not be the same every time and the items will change gradually over the week as you improve.

Enjoy your practice.

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